Xavier Magazine

Profile: Gayle Heintzelman

Master of Human Resource Development, 2008
President and CEO, Mercy Clermont Hospital
Batavia, Ohio

Bottom to Top | Thirty years ago, Gayle Heintzelman began working part-time at Mercy Clermont Hospital as a relief telephone operator. Today, she is president and chief executive officer of the expanding hospital. “Mercy has been wonderful to me. I have been presented so many opportunities to do different things. They believed in my talent.”

Rural Relief | Heintzelman began answering the phone in 1979 to avoid boredom. “My husband and I bought an old farmhouse on 16 acres in Clermont County. I’m sitting out there, no neighbors, nothing, and I thought, ‘I am going to go nuts.’ So I wondered, ‘What can I do to get out of the house for awhile?’ I figured the hospital had to have something. I went to the hospital and became the relief telephone operator. If somebody called in sick or a vacation needed covering, I worked. That was my start.”

Opportunities Evolved | “What is interesting is that I never, per se, planned anything. It was never anything like, ‘OK, I want to do this, that’s where I want to be and I’m going to become CEO of this hospital.’ Everything sort of evolved as people crossed my path or opportunities opened.”

Dual Jobs | “I did registration in the emergency department. I saw what was going on there, and I asked if I could be a nursing technician and a unit secretary because I thought I would like to do both jobs. Nobody had ever done dual jobs. They allowed me to take that opportunity. When I saw what the nurses were doing, I thought, ‘Well, I’m interested in that.’ ” So, Heintzelman, who had an undergraduate degree from the College of Mount St. Joseph, pursued a nursing degree at Raymond Walters College. She went on to become director of the emergency departments at both Mercy Clermont and Mercy Anderson hospitals and served as vice president of nursing and patient care services at Mercy Clermont before becoming CEO.

The Mercy Touch | Heintzelman says she believes the faith-based, community-oriented system of operation sets it apart from some other hospitals. “Probably every hospital provides excellent, competent care, but the piece you need to provide to patients is that extra hand-holding, that sitting and listening to them, because when a patient walks into a hospital, they don’t know what the outcome is going to be. They’re scared. I like to call what we do ‘The Mercy Touch.’ ”

Human Potential | Heintzelman became CEO in 2008 just as she was wrapping up her graduate studies at Xavier. “I started to go back to school online, and I did that for six months and I thought, ‘I’m not an online person. I need the interaction and the classroom and talking to people.’ ” She says her studies provided an important link to her work at the hospital. “Human potential is the biggest thing any organization deals with,” she says. “If you don’t have your human potential aligned, it’s very difficult to meet your goals.”

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